- Alert: Court of Justice clarifies approach to earlier designs (Easy Sanitary Solutions v EUIPO)
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IP analysis: The Court of Justice has dismissed appeals against a decision of the General Court in respect of the validity of a registered Community design for a shower drain. In doing so, it has clarified the approach to be taken to the assessment of the novelty and individual character of a design registration over earlier designs. The Court of Justice held, among other things, that the General Court had erred in law when it required the EUIPO, for the purpose of assessing the novelty of the contested design, to construct the earlier design from the various elements of one or more earlier designs in certain catalogues, even though the applicant for the declaration of invalidity had failed to reproduce in its entirety the design that it claimed to be earlier. It also concluded that the General Court was right to hold, that the ‘sector concerned’ in Article 7(1) of Regulation (EC) 6/2002 (which deals with the disclosure of earlier designs) is not limited to that of the product in which the contested design is intended to be incorporated or applied. Whether there is disclosure to the public of an earlier design is dependent only upon how that disclosure is in fact achieved and not upon the product in which that design is intended to be incorporated or to which it is intended to be applied. Further, it held that the General Court had erred in law when it imposed the requirement that the informed user of the contested design should know the product in which the earlier design was incorporated or to which it was applied. However, the errors identified by the Court of Justice did not affect the operative parts of the General Court’s judgment, so the appeals were dismissed.
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